I was just sitting in my fly infested backyard trying to soak up some of the morning sun. I had a book in my hands but the words were not really penetrating my tired mind. My knee ached, my elbows pulsated and I found that the sun was irritating my eyes. I got to thinking: “How have I gotten to this place? Childless, 11:31 am, Wednesday morning, 39 years old, hung over, still half asleep, tired and bruised in my fly infested backyard?” There was a big world outside and many people were in an act of productive and ambitious motion, while I sat still not wanting to get up. The night before I worked for seven or eight hours at my job as a bartender, which has left me feeling like I have been run over by a heard of elephants. My body was sore and in my backyard I was barley able to handle the thoughts spiraling around in my forlorn head. But I was able to answer the question that I asked myself.
I am an artist. I have hundreds of un sold paintings collecting cobwebs in my garage and two novels that will most likely never be finished. Neither my paintings nor my writings are my great art works. They are more like self-absorbed average relics that I have created along the path that I often call “my life.” My greatest art is the art of fucking up. I can even be so brave to say that I have perfected the art of fucking up more so than most people. I have been fucking up longer than I have been writing or painting. I have spent more energy fucking up than I have doing anything else. It is fair to say that the reason why I was sitting still, unfocused, bruised, achy, tired and agitated in my backyard this morning is because I am a specialist in fucking up.
I still remember my first fuck up. I was seven years old. Everyday I took the school bus to and from school and one day when the student filled school bus let me off in front of my house I had the overwhelming urge to pull my pants down and expose my naked butt to those students who were still on the bus. It was my own way of publicly saying “fuck you” to a school community that I could not stand. But I fucked up. There were more productive ways that I could of exercised my grievances but I was too young to know how. It was as if a part of me knew that all of these students were destined for a life of success and I was destined for the opposite. My public display of naked aggression got me kicked out of the private Jewish school that I was attending and thus began my work as a fuck up specialist.
I fucked up in school hundreds of times. I did not listen to teachers. I cheated and I only thought about girls and blowjobs. I was kicked out of several schools before the age of 15 and I even ran away from home for a week (to stay with a 19 year old sex crazed blonde in Malibu) at the age of 16 (this was a catastrophe that I will not go into here). Even though I was attending beautiful private schools that had excellent academic programs and various opportunities for students who cared- I could care less about any of this. I wanted to drink beer, get naked, listen to music and make life difficult for all authority figures. I wanted to fuck up.
When I think back now to all the opportunities that I had in high school and college I often get chills. I think of some of my fellow classmates who went on to have very successful careers. Enrique Iglesias, the prince of Saudi Arabia, David Sassoon, Robert Mondavi, Eric Weiss (the current president of Capri Sun) and many others all seemed to have found a way to have enjoyed the debaucheries of college but then get their shit together enough to go on to have successful careers. Even though I smoked weed with all of these people, several times, I seemed to be the only one who was destined to become a specialist of fucking up.
For more than a decade and a half after college I continued to fuck up. I fucked up good relationships with women, I fucked up in graduate school (I dropped out of a Masters graduate program a few months before finishing) and I fucked up my own health by the amount of booze, marijuana and negative energy that I ingested. At the age of twenty-nine I was committed to the art of fucking up. I was convinced that there was virtue to be found in fucking up- but I was not sure yet where to find it. I spent years and years in and out of odd jobs, I read thousands of books about existentialism and romanticism, I smoked two packs of cigarettes a day and tried to erase every memory I had of a childhood that was filled with so many opportunities for success. I was a fuck up specialist and I was convinced that my fame would be based upon my ability to fuck up. But fame never found me. Only fuck ups did.
My friends were as fucked up as I was. Starving artists from rich families. Depressives. Grown men who wore all black and stared at the ground. Yoga practitioners who were addicted to coffee and weed and were obsessed with pubic hair, orgies and stretching. Men with anger issues and alcohol issues. Men looking for companionship and love but unable to find it with anyone other than prostitutes. A community of drunken fuck ups flocked to me in the same way that a fly may be attracted to a teard. And I opened my arms to all of them. But one fuck up I will never forget. I will not use his name here but he made forty six million dollars by the age of 34. He was a Princeton graduate who made his money by writing the program for what became a website called Ticket Master. His father won an academy ward for doing the sound effects for the first Exorcist film and my friend seemed to have inherited his father’s genius. He also inherited his addictive behavior. At one point in my early thirties when I was homeless and needed a place to stay I moved in with my millionaire friend and thus began a yearlong graduate course in fucking up. To make a long story short my friend fucked up so bad that now he is no longer a millionaire. He has disappeared- no one knowing where he moved off to. His addiction to prostitutes, cocaine and real-estate turned most of his assets into dust and made him into a much better fuck up artist than I.
Now that I am almost 40 years of age and working as a bartender I think I have found the virtue in fucking up that I was looking for over a decade ago. It is through fucking up that we are forced to examine the way we live. Every time I fucked up, whether I liked it or not, I had to think about myself in relation to my fuck ups. “Why did I do it?” was often the question I asked myself and even though most of the time I ignored the answer and continued fucking up- I was collecting a kind of wisdom from my fuck ups that I have not really been aware of until now. I believe it was Socrates who said that an unexamined life is not worth living. Fucking up as much as I have has caused me to spend much of my current existence examining my life. I look deeply. I write. I paint. I keep a journal and I am a student of psychology. I do all of this not in attempt to find answers to how and why I became such a great fuck up specialist. Instead I do all of this because I enjoy exploring the questions. I realize that I am an imperfect human being and it through the examination of my imperfections that I learn the most about myself. It is through examining my fuck ups that I am able to get more clarity, better insights into questions like: “How have I gotten to this place? Childless, 11:31 am, Wednesday morning, 39 years old, hung over, still half asleep, tired and bruised in my fly infested backyard?” For now- this is the best I can do, and for once in my life this does not feel like fucking up.